As Nigerians celebrated their Democracy Day on the 29th of May 2018, the presidency released a document on what the administration has achieved since 2015. Nigerians voted in President Buhari under the platform of All Peoples Congress (APC) as a result of loss of trust in the former President, Goodluck Jonathan.
In the document, the presidency highlighted the achievements on the economy, infrastructure and others, concluding that there has been a huge success, with more progress to be made. The presidency has given their report, the scorecard of the president, which shows a lot of success with no misfortunate, of course, they ought to blow their trumpets if no one cares to blow it for them. Let’s critically look into the report.
According to the report, the Nigerian economy is back and is on the path of growth after the recession of 2016-2017. It said the Muhammadu Buhari administration’s priority sectors of agriculture and solid mineral maintained consistent growth throughout the recession. This administration can laud themselves for getting the country out of recession, but the country went out of recession the same way it dabbled into it. The economy healed itself, there was no magic or special principles enacted by the government to take the country out of recession.
The root cause of recession turned out to be the messiah of the country, the recession came in abruptly, unplanned for, as a result of the sudden fall in crude oil prices in 2015, likewise, the growth experienced in 2017 was as a result of the appreciation in the price of crude oil. This is to say, the economy is on a table with uncomplete legs, the moment oil prices fall again, the nation might go down the drain, if we are yet to really diversify beyond just talks.
Although, the scorecard report indicates agriculture and solid minerals as its priority, yet it failed to talk about billions the president spent in search of oil in the north-eastern part of the country. No one is criticising the efforts of looking for oil but it would be more rational to observe what each region has and explore them instead of searching for what is not there at the detriment of the nation’s development. The funds wasted to search for the oil in the region could have been channeled properly. It is laughable: Nigeria survives on oil; a leadership comes and says we’ll diversify, then turns around to spend so much in search of the same oil! This is not how to prioritise agriculture. The sector is still as vague as it is, providing 48% jobs for the people compared to the over 70% jobs it created before the craze for oil exploration.
In the aspect of inflation, this administration is getting closer to the desirable rate of inflation. The inflation has fallen the fifteenth consecutive month while the nation’s external reserves are at their highest levels in five years, currently double the size of October 2016. This is an achievement that is obvious and achievable as a result of the strict principles of the monetary authorities. I think the government deserves some accolades for that, yet, the nation is not at the state of desirable inflation rate. The recent rate of inflation is yet to meet with the budgeted rate of inflation, the economy needs to strategise the more.
In the power sector, the report states that there was transmission expansion and rehabilitation programme which has resulted in a 50% expansion in grid capacity since 2015, from 5,000MW to 7125MW as at December 2017. It also launched the distribution expansion programme (DEP) which has approved by the Federal Executive Council in February 2018 to deliver 2,000 MW of unused power capacity to consumers in need. The presidency has failed to address the issue of the high rate of exploitation faced by consumers. The electricity is being claimed to have been generated, yet, Nigerians still run on generators. There are still shady dealings that make reluctant to come into Nigeria to invest in this area. The bills for electricity in the country is throat cutting; the exploitation experienced by consumers is high. These are the issues needed to be addressed in the power sector, hence, no achievement can be said to be earned. Electricity is a social welfare affair, so, if consumers cannot enjoy the service, it can’t be termed successful. Yet, I would say the progress is appreciable but we can do better.
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The presidency also went ahead to list their achievements in investing in people. Any form of achievement engaged in should be result oriented and specific returns should be expected. Under the Social Investment Programme (SIP), government said 200,000 N-Power beneficiaries are currently participating and receiving NGN30,000 in monthly stipends. The report also said another 300,000 new enrollment are being processed, to take the number to 500,000 this year.
The N-Power has absolved many youths in the country, but not all those absolved are working, especially those ‘teaching’ in schools; they just receive payment. Of a truth, the government pay the seemingly unemployed youths but at the long run, no impact on the economic growth. What is the usefulness of a programme if there is no impact on the economy.
They talk about school feeding with such sense of satisfaction. But feeding few children in the large country once in a day, with some teachers unpaid is an improper arrangement. Such programmes should be done in a balanced economy as it is merely an avenue for expenses. The chefs are ‘employed’ but they are still sucking from the same exhausted purse. This is not the kind of employment that drives an economy; it is like placing the cart before the horse. Meanwhile, some of these children have parents who are not being paid; what will they eat after school?
The questions the presidency should look into before counting their unhatched chicks are: what have the programmes and plans translated into the economy? What are the feedback from such programmes? Are they worth spending millions on? If the answers to these questions are not on the positive, it is sad to note that the country is recording a cyclical success; a success that is aimed at ‘proving they are working’. Success should be upward, something projected into the future and bringing returns into the economy.